G. A. R.
General Meade Post No. 39
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G. A. R.
GENERAL MEADE POST No. 39
DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA
AND NORTH CAROLINA
Raleigh, N. C.
C. H. BEINE
STEPHEN Bo WEEKS
CLASS OF 1886; PH.D. THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
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Hiram L. Grant
Gr. A. R.
GENERAL MEADE POST No. 39
DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA
and NORTH CAROLINA
Raleigh, N. C.
C. H. BEINE
Digitized by the Internet Archive
Delivered May 30, 1908, at the Federal Cemetery, under the auspices
of the Grand Army of the Republic, by HIRAM L. GRANT, Clerk
United States Courts, and late Major af the Sixth Regiment, Connec-
ticut Volunteer Infantry
Comrades, Confederate Veterans, Ladies and Gentlemen:
From the earliest days of the civilized races, they have paid
tribute of affection, admiration and sometimes worship, to the
last resting places of their dead.
If a founder of a kingdom or father and leader of a people,
or the lowly grave of the humble, claiming no tribute but tears,
there has been a universal and patriotic centering about the
resting-place of the departed.
Perhaps it is because in many cases those who have passed
on have no memorial, save the simple head-stone which marks
the lowly mound beneath which they rest, and so the memories
and affections of those they love center there, and there they
bring their tokens of remembrance.
A memorial day which does not rest on a basis of religious
reverence is a mere matter of empty sentiment. A holiday
it may be of idle gathering and worldly frivolities, instead of
a holy day, when, with reverent hands, we place wreaths of
flowers upon these spots that hold beloved dust. We thank
God and delight to recall whatsoever things were true, and
honest and just, and pure and lovely, and of good report, in
the lives and characters of those Avhose memory we justly
I yield to no one in my admiration and gratitude to God,
for the precious legacy of glorious memories that these heroic
souls have left us and our children for generations yet unborn.
They are not likely to he forgotten. They are becoming more
and more a matter of public record, to be known and read of
all men, and their influence as an inspiration to worthy lives
and noble deeds, will be felt for long years to come.
To-day we strew flowers on the graves of soldiers of the
great Civil war, those who perished that the republic might
They who fail to honor the services, sacrifices, and the
memory of those who died to achieve this great result, evidence
a weakness, which, thank God, is not inherent in our nature,
and can never develop as a characteristic of our brave and
I should be insensible to feeling if I did not realize the
great honor conferred upon me by the surviving veterans of
the Grand Army of the Kepublic, in selecting me to speak for
them and their organization on this occasion, and in the pres-
ence of the few who are patiently awaiting the last roll-call.
I regret that the task had not fallen upon one more worthy
The conception of this organization originated with Doctor
Stephenson, at Springfield, 111., who was a surgeon in the army
and who, in 1866, organized the veterans in that city, for the
purpose of annually meeting for social companionship. It
spread throughout the State and like organizations were
formed, but assumed only a local character. The following
year other States followed the example of Illinois, and soon
a National Organization was formed, but did not seem to pros-
per until years after, when General Logan, who had been elect-
ed Commander-in-Chief, issued the following letter : "If other
eyes grow dull, and other hands grow slack, and other hearts
are cold in keeping the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well
as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us."
Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their
sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them
with the choicest flowers of springtime. Let us raise above
them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in
the solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those
they have left among us, a sacred charge upon a nation's grati-
tude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.
Spending millions of money in charity, inculcating patriot-
ism into the hearts of the youth of the land, the Grand Army
of the Republic has done a noble work. Too soon will come
the last bugle call and the sounding taps. The ending of the
mighty organization will create a deep loss to the land in which
we live, and, in the words of President McKinley, that ending
is not far distant, for even now, "the Grand Army of the
Republic is marching into the shadows."
After this order the organization assumed a new life, and
the interest among the veterans increased from that day and
there has been no abatement to the present time.
The Grand Army of the Republic, under whose auspices
we meet to-day, is a unique organization, unlike any other in
existence. In the words of a post commander-in-chief, "No
child can be born into it, no proclamation of President, edict
of king or czar can command admission, no university or in-
stitution of learning can issue a diploma authorizing its holder
to enter, no Act of Congress or of Parliament secures recog-
nition. The wealth of Rockefeller can not purchase the posi-
tion. Its doors swing open only upon the presentation of a
bit of paper, torn, worn, begrimed, it may be, wbich certifies
to an honorable discbarge from the army or the navy of the
nation during the war against the Union, and, unlike any
other association, no new blood can come in. There are no
growing ranks from which recruits can be drawn into the
Grand Army of the Republic. With the consummation of
peace through victory its rolls were closed forever. Its lines
are steadily and swiftly growing thinner, and the ceaseless
tramp of its columns is everlasting tread. The gap in the
picket line grows wider, day by day details are made from
the reserve, summoned into the shadowy regions to return to
touch elbows no more, until bye and bye only a solitary senti-
nel shall stand guard, awaiting the bugle call from beyond,
that will muster out the last comrade of the Grand Army of
These lines which I have quoted are so beautifully ex-
pressed, giving us the origin and purpose of this national or-
"It seems but yesterday, though forty years have sped,
Since all the boys in blue came back, by Grant the hero led.
With waving flags and happy tears, and loud and joyful shouts,
With warm embrace and friendly grasp, we hailed them mustered out.
And what a change those forty years of peaceful life has made,
But yesterday beneath the trees our grand old Chief was laid.
He left his sword, with honor crowned, upon life's last redoubt,
And sleeps to-day in silent camp, by glory mustered out.
And where are they who led the blue, amid the flames of war,
And brought our beauteous banner home, without a missing star?
Unbroken are their dreams to-day by a battle's martial shout,
And Hooker, Burnside, Thomas, Meade, are heroes mustered out.
Xo more along Potomac streams are pitched the tents of Lee,
No longer Sherman's legions march in triumph to the sea;
The Wilderness, where thousands fought, to-night is dark and still,
And the tasseled corn is waving on the slopes of Malvern Hill.
The silky grass is long and green upon the ramparts old,
The farmer turns the rusted shell up from the dewy mould,
And war no longer shakes the skies that smile above the South,
The robin woos his sweetheart in the cannon's brazen mouth.
The trumpet's piercing blast is still, the shackled slave is free,
The Mississippi proudly rolls unguarded to the sea.
The snowy wings of peace are spread where stood the embattled line.
The tall Palmetto of the South leans to the Northern Pine.
The tattered sabre breathes of times when fields were won and lost.
The empty sleeve in silence tells how much the victory cost.
Behold the heroes mustered out — they sleep in glade and glen,
On mountain tops, by river sides, four hundred thousand men.
Beneath the flag our fathers made, they fought for me and you,
And crimsoned with their precious blood their honored coats of blue.
Upon a hundred battle-fields, in victory and in rout,
And in the prison's horrid pen, the brave were mustered out.
The ranks grow thinner day by day, we hear the funeral chant
As the gallant bluecoats, one by one, follow their leader, Grant.
The battle drums are muffled now, upon the last redoubt,
And where the bugle notes are still, the boys lie mustered out.
Methinks I see the last camp fire blaze up against the sky,
While the angels add the last brave name to the deathless roll on high.
They are gone, but still in vision fair I see the ranks of blue
That march in glorious column in Jehovah's grand review.''
There was a moral question and a legal one — one slavery,
the other secession — one appealing to conscience, the other to
the Constitution. Both demanded settlement, but we strove
to confine the war to the settlement of only one. Even our
President, Abraham Lincoln, said he would save the Union
with slavery if he could, without slavery if he must.
The significance of Memorial Day increases with each pass-
ing year, for the reason that each year brings to us with greater
force the obligations which we owe to these on whose graves
we strew flowers to-day. The human race will probably never
again witness a war of such extent, when nearly five millions
of free and enlightened American citizens engaged in deadly
strife, covering a period of four years, entailing a loss of six
hundred thousand men, and resulting in such widespread de-
struction and suffering, besides the expenditure of millions in
On this occasion, so sacred to us, I refuse to consider the
cost of the war on any financial line. The real cost of the
war, which ought to rise in the thought and to the lips of
patriotic men when they speak of what the war cost, should
be computed in relation to the splendid manhood of the nation,
South and North, which went to premature graves in that
mighty conflict. No life is so obscure, its light so dim, but
that its going out will leave a shadow on some other life.
If it had not been for that war, and its awful holocaust,
there would have been at least three-quarters of a million more
homes in this country than exist to-day. It seems but yester-
day that they were a part of that living, breathing, moving,
restless energy we call human life. To-day they are deaf to
the applause of friends, the taunts of foes, the sweet voice of
love and heedless of their fair renown and insensible to glory.
Over these graves will grow the flowers that never fade and
the ceaseless music of these pines will fitly emblem the love
we bear them.
In meed of praise let there be a generous share for those
who at home so loyally held up our hands in every possible
way, and of that praise, give far the larger amount to the
women of our time. Mortal lips were never able, and never
will be able, to do them justice.
Classic history furnished no grander instances of heroic
womanhood, than those so common in these Xorthern homes
as to excite no comment, but their part was no less than that
of their men who went to the front.
One instance is of a young lady who was engaged to be
married to one who became a general officer, who had left his
office at the very beginning of his professional career, and left
the young woman to whom he was pledged to bear his part
in the defense of the Union. His name was General Bartlett.
In one action he lost an arm, and in another a leg, and thus
crippled, as he lay in the hospital, he thought it only right
that he should release the young woman from the engagement
to a man so hopelessly maimed and broken, and so he wrote
her. What was her reply, sent back as quick as word could
go? "So long as God spares enough of your body to hold
your soul I stand to my engagement."
Can history ever surpass this example of loyalty and heroic
devotion ? And that was the spirit of the American woman
in that conflict, whether it was North or South.
That war put an everlasting quietus on those triple relics
of destruction — Slavery, States' rights and Secession. But the
right settlement of slavery and States' rights were but inci-
dents of the war, whose real object and supreme result was to
preserve the Union of States, to make the nation one and indi-
visible, now and forever.
General Alexander, in a speech at Xashville, Tenn., at the
reunion of Confederate Veterans said: ''Whose vision is now
so dull that he does not recognize the blessing it is to himself,
and his children, to live in an undivided country, who would
to-day relegate his own State to the position it would hold in
the world were it declared a sovereign?
"To ask these questions is to answer them and the answer is,
the acknowledgement that it was hest for the South that the
cause was lost. The right to secede, the stake for which we
fought so desperately, were it now offered us as a gift, we
would reject as we would a proposition of suicide."
General Frazier also said at the same meeting: "When the
grand and noble Christian, General Kobert E. Lee, surren-
dered at Appomattox, he spoke with a heart too full for deceit,
in that no Southern mother swore her son to bitterness. She
swore him to love and honor. ' All accejDted the inevitable
finality. When you saw furled for the last time the Stars
and Bars yoti had followed for four years, when you had made
your last final march back to your homes, had a final farewell
to your comrades, and found perhaps the sainted mother sleep-
ing in the family cemetery, when you pressed upon your wife's
lips a loving kiss, you sealed a solemn pledge that from that
day on you would know but one country and one flag."
It was settled that American heroism and valor were the
same, no matter under which flag displayed, for neither side
could justly charge the other with any lack of these high quali-
ties of vigorous manhood, and in this fact, that cost us so much
at that time, was another blessing; for since then there has
been profound mutual respect, where before there was so much
lack of it as to make impossible any true feeling of real friend-
"Bitter and bloody were the days of woe,
That filled the land with agony and tears,
And hid the sun throughout those deathful years ;
Eyes wont to smile burned with a sullen glow,
And brothers met as foeman meets a foe.
At last the end; and as the blaek sky clears
Rift after rift, till all the blue appears,
The clouds of hate, their thunders muttering low,
Rolled slowly back; the storm of war was past.
And now one country lives in every breast,
With one allegiance through the land confessed.
We could not see, until the strife was done,
That though we fought each other to the last,
The cause of both in very truth was one.
We know it now: the victory jointly wrought
Through awful carnage by that mighty host,
All may as one great army proudly boast.
No honest effort ever comes to naught;
All deeds for conscience are with honor fraught."
Patriots, animated by the same faith, actuated by the same
love of country, beset by the same trials and dangers, endowed
with the same fortitude, and who fought as heroically to main-
tain self-government as did the Colonial fathers to attain the
same, with them are immortalized in the same halo of glory.
While we honor and revere the memory of those who de-
fended the flag, we should not forget the loyalty and heart-
burning for four long years in the homes out of which they
There was anxiety and continued agony beyond what we in
the field knew. We knew the worst when night fell. Besides
that, we had much of pleasantry of camp and march, and the
fierce, all-engrossing excitement of the battle-field. Our loved
ones at home, if they learned that we had been safe on a cer-
tain date, knew not what might have occurred since, so the
heart agony continued from day to day for weeks and months.
Forty-three years have passed since the hostile bugle sang
truce, and Lee yielded his army and his sword to Grant at
Appomattox. Since the great armies of the Civil war were
mustered out no foe on American soil has fired on the flag.
The birds in the Southern forests have sung their songs and
been undisturbed by missile of war. The palmetto and mag-
nolia of the Carolinas, the holly of the James, and the long
mosses of the Florida forest, once scraped by shot and shell
of contending armies, have since been stirred only by the
gentle breeze of peace.
The generation which participated in that great struggle is
rapidly passing away. The Grand Army of the Republic in
the year 1900 had nearly four hundred thousand members, in
1906 about two hundred thousand, the loss by death in 1907
almost thirty thousand.
"Yes, the shores of life are shifting
And we are seaward drifting,
Old places, changing, fret us,
The living more forget us,
There are fewer to regret us.
"But truer life draws nigher,
And its morning star climbs higher,
Earth's hold on us grows slighter,
And the heavy burden lighter,
And the dawn immortal brighter.
Every recurring Memorial Day makes more perceptible the
rapid thinning of their gallant ranks, but every recurring year
engraves more deeply on the nation's heart the record of thei<r
deeds. The survivors, many with the infirmities of age, felt
that the day with all its observances Avas, above all, their day.
Their hearts grew young again and beat faster as they lived
again in memory their struggles.
The spirit of this day is not that of festivity and mirth, nor
does the word "decoration" express it. We are here for memo-
rial purposes, to recall the deeds of the heroes of the nation,
of those whose names are written upon the history of our land.
We honor ourselves by paying tribute to their valor.
They have stamped their immortal deeds upon the scroll of
ages, and though they have passed away they are not dead,
for the spirit which animated them shall never die.
Yes, this is a funeral day, if you will, a day on which we
have assembled to thank the God of battles and of peace that
these dead have neither lived nor died in vain, to pay a meed
of respect to memory of these and in order that our children
may from these graves draw inspiration, that will make them
worthy successors and more patriotic Americans.
Love of country that forgets even the lowliest of its National
defenders is a spurious brand.
Differences of party, creed and sect are to-day forgotten,
while north, south, east and west, all over our broad land, with
reverent hearts, circle the sacred mounds where sleep our coun-
You will find honored veterans in this cemetery, humble
graves with only a small stone inscribed "unknown," but more
glorious in our eyes and in yours than sculptured marble and
granite shaft is the little flag that waves peacefully over each
mound, and tells more eloquently than anything else could
who and what they are who sleep underneath. Young men,
thoughtless though they be, will be impressed by the meaning
of this ceremony and their minds will grasp its noble signifi-
cance. They Avill mark these mounds on the tablet of their
To-day are gathered thousands and thousands in National
cemeteries to honor those who sacrificed their lives, while
many others are buried in trenches and on battlefields, others
lie alone in some hidden and quiet nook of the forest where
they fell. Though we can not reach every one, not one is
forgotten, and we bend over them all in reverent memory, and
in grateful appreciation of all tbat their death meant, and ever
will mean to the country and to posterity.
In this beautiful Southland, where these heroes sleep, the
spring flowers have already begun to bud and blossom, fit em-
blems of the immortality of the soul, and as we bow to-day
in reverence, love and devotion over these many graves, may
we not ask all to forget the strife and estrangement of the
past, and mourn with us for the untimely closing of so many
lives, lives adorned with noble effort in the past and so full of
joromise for the coining years, years that will never come.
It was a great and noble cause for which they died, and
we best honor them and their memories by passing on, unsul-
lied, the heritage they preserved for us.
Cicero, in his oration against Mark Antony, referred to an
ancient Greek sentiment that, "all memory of civil strife
should be buried in oblivion." We may forget the strife, and
still, year by year, as new life and beauty spring from the
mouldering dust of those who fell, we do well to decorate their
graves, to tell our children of their deeds of valor.
As the years have passed, a robe of charity and peace, broad
and beautiful as the green mounds under which the fallen
heroes of both sides sleep, has been spread over the whole land
and those who fought each other now stand side by side.
The lessons of the past have not been lost nor forgotten, and
should the time ever come when millions of men should be
needed for the defense of the flag, they will come from the
North and the South of this united country.
The Spanish-American war was attended with many good
results, hut one of the best was the impetus it gave to the
restoration of cordial relations, and the spirit of union and
Americanism throughout the country. It gave the young men
of the South an opportunity to put on the blue and show their
loyalty and devotion to the flag, and to win, as they did, a
heroic share of the glory and greatness that was added to the
republic, while their representatives in public life distin-
guished themselves by the conspicuous and patriotic character
of their utterances and services. What has followed is but
the natural result, and every survivor of the Union army should
be profoundly thankful that his life has been spared to see
such a complete vindication of all that for which he contended.
Corporal Tanner, in an address at Arlington, said: "And
we can easily imagine that the Southern boy thought even
more deeply, as he gazed upon the Confederate button in the
lapel of his father's coat, and thought of the faded old uniform
of gray, but he said, 'Father, it has been your flag since Appo-
mattox, and it has been my flag all my life, and I must go.'
And the old man of the gray nodded his head and ruminated
on the whirl of events which had caused him to send his boy
out in defense of the flag he had striven for four years to tear
down. So it was that son of Yank and son of Johnnie stood
side by side in the conflict, supporting, defending each other,
though their fathers had sought each others' lives."
"Yes, the ranks are growing thinner with the coming of each May,
And the beard and locks once raven are now mingled thick with gray;
Soon the hands that strew the flowers will be folded, still and cold,
And our story of devotion will have been forever told.
Years and years have passed by, comrades, though it seams but
Since our blue-garbed Northern legions marched to meet the Southern
But a day since Massachusetts bade her soldier boys good-bye,
But a day since Carolina heard her brave sons' farewell cry.
Those were days we all remember, in our hearts we hold them yet,
And the kiss we got at parting, who can ever that forget?
For it might have been from father, from fond mother or of wife,
Or from maid whose love was dearer to the soldier far than life.
Through the lonely midnight marches and the fierce-fought battle's
Or the sailor's lonely watches, gone (please God) forevermore.
Though these may not be forgotten 'till the dew our graves shall wet,
Yet the color of our jackets, can each loyal heart forget?
For the ranks are growing thinner, and though clad in blue or gray,
Soon both armies will be sleeping in their shelter tents of clay.
And the loud reverberation, over all the land shall be,
Sounding grandly through the ages as the tocsin of the free.
For we both but did our duty in the great Jehov.ih's plan,
And the world has learned a lesson, that each one may read who can;
And when gathered for the Muster, on that last Eventful Day,
May the God extend His blessing sweet alike to Blue and Gray."
Let passion be hushed, for the grave is silent.
Let flowers only spring from the mold, as the emblem of
that purer and better nature which alone will live in our
Let the sound of those they wrought for
And the feet of those they fought for,
Echo around their graves forevermore.
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